Dizziness is a fairly common feeling that is characterized by a loss of balance. A person feeling dizzy abruptly feels like he or she is going to fall down. Dizziness can occur due to a number of causes, and it can affect anyone. Some of the common conditions that frequently lead to dizziness include strenuous work or exercise in hot weather, riding a roller coaster in a carnival, or going hungry for a long period of time.
Mild dizziness is often shrugged off and people tend to continue doing what they were doing when dizziness occurred. However, it is strongly advisable to stop any activity when feeling dizzy and take rest. Work or activity should be resumed only when the feeling of dizziness passes. Dizziness that occurs due to no apparent reason is a cause for concern. In such cases, there is a possibility that dizziness is caused by a serious underlying condition that may have fatal consequences if ignored.
Reasons for Feeling Dizzy
A sudden feeling of dizziness could result from the following three conditions:
- Oxygen supply to the brain becomes abnormally low due to a drop in blood pressure (technically referred to as hypotension) or low oxygen level in the blood
- A drop in blood glucose level (technically referred to as hypoglycemia) that starves the brain of energy
- An abnormality in the inner ear (especially in the semicircular canals), which is normally responsible for maintaining balance
Dizziness may also occur due to changes in hormone levels (such as during pregnancy), certain movements and anxiety or fear. However, the above three causes are mainly responsible for sudden occurrence of dizziness. Apart from a loss of balance, dizziness is also accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, blurry vision, and headaches.
Read more on morning dizziness.
Dizziness is not a disease. It is a symptom of many different underlying conditions. Therefore, effective treatment of dizziness requires identification of the underlying cause of dizziness on a case-to-case basis. One should not ignore any recurring episodes of dizziness. They may be signs of heart attack, stroke, intracranial tumor or diabetic complications. Even mild, one-off episodes of dizziness that subside without causing fainting should be investigated.
Ways to Relieve Dizziness
Before going into some of the ways that might help in relieving dizziness, it is important to stress that these guidelines should not be treated as substitutes for any medical investigation. It is strongly advised to get a medical examination done to find out the underlying cause of dizziness, and begin proper treatment. A person who feels dizzy may use the following guidelines to prevent blackouts till he or she is able to reach a doctor.
Stop all activity and sit down
Regardless of the intensity of dizziness, one should always stop whatever one is doing and sit down. This is the first thing to do whenever dizziness occurs. Continuing activities (such as driving a vehicle or working with heavy machinery) while feeling dizzy can lead to serious consequences that may even be fatal. Under such circumstances, you risk not only your own life but also that of others.
If dizziness persists while sitting, one should lie down flat. Elevating the legs slightly would also help increase the blood supply to the brain. Sitting or lying down aids recovery by reducing the work that the heart needs to do to pump blood across the body. It also reduces the chances of injury that may occur due to falling down.
Have a sugary drink and lots of water
If dizziness is caused by a drop in blood glucose level, sipping a sugary drink while resting may help. Even when the cause of dizziness is not hypoglycemia, consumption of sugary drinks may provide comfort. Diabetics, however, need to be cautious about their consumption of sugary drinks since their bodies are not able to regulate blood glucose level.
A good strategy is to take a few sips of a sugary drink, and then wait for a while to see the effect before having a few more sips. Apart from sugary drinks, one should also drink plenty of plain water. This may help in conditions when dehydration is the cause of dizziness.
Read more on hypoglycemia.
Close eyes or use sunglasses
Eye strain caused by bright lights or visual stimuli can cause headaches that aggravate the symptom of dizziness. Therefore, blocking any visual stimuli by closing the eyes is a simple way to help relieve eye strain and dizziness. Bright lights can also be cut out by drawing the curtains or switching off the lights when in a room. When in sunlight, sunglasses can be used to cut down the harsh light. Sunglasses also help when closing eyes is not possible.
Lie down in a dark room
When other measures are not helping in providing relief from dizziness, one can just lie down and take rest in a dark room. The bedroom is the ideal place for lying down and resting. Lying down flat on a bed reduces the workload on the heart, and also allows gravity to assist the flow of blood to the brain. Resting also reduces the demand for oxygen and glucose in the tissues of the body.
The room in which one intends to take rest should be devoid of any distracting visual and auditory stimuli. The lack of stimulus aids in falling asleep. Sometimes, when a doctor cannot find any serious reason for the dizziness, a good night’s sleep may help in relieving the condition.
Dizziness is more frequent during hot summer days. Heat can cause dehydration and changes in blood pressure, leading to dizziness. Elderly individuals (especially those with a weak cardiovascular system) are more susceptible to dizziness caused by intense heat. Sitting or lying down in a cool place (such as an air conditioned room) can help in recovering from dizziness caused by heat.
Breathing fresh air may also help. In hot summer days, one should stay away from harsh sunlight and wear light and loose-fitting clothes. Intense exercise or physical work should be avoided in a hot environment. Also, drink lots of water to rehydrate the body.
Elevate the legs
When sitting or lying down, elevating the legs by placing them on a pillow or a foot stool can aid blood circulation to the heart and the brain. The increased flow of oxygenated blood to the brain aids in relieving the sensation of dizziness. People with heart conditions should, however, be careful while elevating their legs. The volume of blood flowing through the heart can increase suddenly, leading to more complications. It is best to elevate the legs only slightly by placing one or two pillows under them.